Passenger traffic surges, cargo stutters
Airports worldwide report a robust 7% year-on-year increase in total passenger traffic for Mar-07, according to Airports Council International (ACI). International traffic rose sharply by 11% and domestic more modestly by 4%.
Meanwhile, international freight traffic demand continued a 12-month run of sluggish growth, with a 2.3% increase year-on-year. Freight demand in Asia was slightly better, at +4.3% in Mar-07, although trade imbalances resulted in lower load factors on inbound aircraft, according to IATA. ACI airport data also shows Mar-07 worldwide volumes slowed considerably (-0.2%, trimming the 1Q07 increase to 3.6% (with international up 5.1% and domestic up 1%).
The airline body attributes the sluggish freight market to competition from other modes of transport. ACI meanwhile stated that in North America, some of the larger hubs indicate a nationwide trend of cargo carriers consolidating flown freight into regional carriers and trucking them out to other cities. In the Middle East, some cities report that passenger airlines, due to the very competitive nature of the business, are giving priority to passenger loads, reducing the freight tonnage carried. In Asia Pacific, strong competition between hubs, lower demand from the US market and the impact of slowing electronic sector were cited as factors.
Whatever the cause, it is clear that freight will not contribute to airline earnings in the robust way the passenger segment is poised to do.
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